Bennett relishing return to Kogarah
Back in April 2008 Wayne Bennett broke the collective hearts of many Broncos fans by announcing that he was leaving the club for the Dragons.
After a six-year sabbatical stretching across two cities, the coaching messiah returned to his spiritual home this year to impart his words of wisdom over an underachieving Brisbane team.
Questions were raised about the 65-year-old's coaching philosophy following Brisbane's 30-point flogging at the hands of the Rabbitohs in the season opener. But since then the Broncos have carved out a five-match unbeaten run which has seen them gallop up to outright leaders on the Telstra Premiership ladder after being last at the conclusion of Round 1.
The Broncos can extend their lead at the top if they overcome the third-placed Dragons at Jubilee Oval on Friday night – the first time they've visited the venue since 2007.
Despite spending three years in Newcastle before returning to Brisbane, Bennett still holds a soft spot for the club he coached to the 2010 title and is relishing a return to Kogarah on Friday night.
"It was a great time of my life," Bennett said. "The years I had there we had a great amount of success as a club and there were great people there.
"I'm really looking forward to going back and seeing some of them [on Friday] night as well."
Such is Bennett's admiration for the Red V, the master coach revealed he was only 12 hours away from signing up for a second coaching stint at the club after leaving the Knights at the end of 2014.
The rest is history of course as the seven-time premiership coach decided to ride back into the Broncos' stable until the end of 2017.
Bennett never had much luck coaching against the Broncos while at the Dragons, only mustering two wins from seven attempts.
St George Illawarra enjoyed an eight-match winning streak over Brisbane before Bennett's arrival with that run ending in Bennett's second match against his former club in Round 24, 2009.
It's been all the Broncos since then with the club winning 10 out of 11 clashes and they currently hold an eight game unbeaten run against their top-four opponents.
That streak began when Bennett was still in the Dragons' coaching box so he feels somewhat accountable for Brisbane's recent dominance.
"Well that was partly because I was coach of the club," he said with a smirk.
"Up until I started to coach the Dragons they had the wood over the Broncos."
Defence is likely to be key in the Friday night blockbuster and Brisbane's defensive fortunes have taken an upward curve since their Round 1 capitulation against Souths.
Their run up the ladder has come off the back of some resilient goal-line defence with the side only leaking an average of 12 points per game over the past six weeks.
It's a remarkable improvement on the defensive efforts of last season where the club conceded an average of 19.5 points and Bennett says there's more progress still to be made.
"You always need to improve and there are a couple of areas [to work on] for us, but we're a fair defensive team at the moment," he said.
"A lot of our tries have been conceded from bombs and that type of stuff but basically I'm pleased with the side defensively."
The Dragons' impenetrable defence has been the reason they sit third on the ladder having only conceded a total of 10 points across their past three matches.
"They're all really enthusiastic and playing for each other and working hard for each other and that's what good defensive teams do," Bennett added.
"There's nothing scientific about defence; it's all about what you want to achieve with your teammates. They want to play for each other and that's what they're doing very well."
Meanwhile, Bennett alleviated any concerns surrounding the fitness of Justin Hodges, Ben Hunt and Lachlan Maranta after the trio failed to complete Brisbane's final training session on Thursday.